Duterte discusses ‘important’ security matters with lawmakers

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2017 09:21 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he summoned lawmakers on Tuesday for an important meeting involving the state of national security.

The President refused to give details on his discussions with lawmakers, saying only that the talks involved the country's “state of security.” 

“I called them for some specific purpose, which to me is urgent and immediate. And then, we rambled on to so many things,” Duterte told reporters on the sidelines of the 113th founding anniversary celebration of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“I specifically asked them to be there last night kasi may mensahe ako sa kanila mas more important.”

While the President did not reveal details of the supposedly sensitive discussions, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the President warned of supposed fresh threats from terror groups in Mindanao amid the ongoing siege in Marawi City involving Islamic State-linked terrorists. 

“What I can say is that at the start of the meeting, he already mentioned the awareness to some intel (intelligence) reports [of] threats,” Sotto said in an interview at the Senate.

“Ang pangamba nila... the problem in Mindanao might not be confined in Marawi alone,” he said. 

Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after terrorists captured parts of Marawi in a bid to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines. Congress has extended to the end of the year Duterte's declaration of a 60-day military rule as the crisis have yet to be resolved. 

Over 600 people, mostly terrorists, have died since clashes erupted in the city.

The emergence of groups pledging allegiance to Islamic State has been considered the biggest security problem to face the year-old Duterte administration.

The rise of pro-Islamic State groups in the country has also raised alarm in Washington and the Philippines’ neighbors in the region, which fear that the notorious terror group was seeking to establish a new front in Asia amid its successive losses in Iraq and Syria.